Opportunity for a High School in Huron

Opportunity for a High School in Huron
Right to left: State Senator Ana Caballero, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Mayor of Huron Rey León and community activist Rubén Rodríguez at their press conference. All photos by Peter Maiden.
Coalinga-Huron Superintendent of Schools Lori Villanueva, left, talks with State Senator Ana Caballero at the edge of land intended to be the location of Huron’s first High School. Photo by Peter Maiden.

A high school in Huron would be a huge improvement in the lives of students and the community. No longer would students have to get up before the sun rises and miss extracurricular activities to take the long bus ride to and from Coalinga. They would have a high school within walking distance. The city already has land, which was donated by a local farmer.

A pivotal moment took place when elected officials and grassroots supporters of the high school came together on May 26 and agreed to find the funding to make this happen. After the meeting, they held a press conference.

“Today is a great day,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond at the press conference. “Today is a day of opportunity, but it has not come easily. It has come from struggle⎯a conversation that has been taking place for more than 10 years.”

Thurmond said he did not have the authority to provide the money needed for the high school and that “for this to happen, we all have to work together.” Earlier, he met with State Senator Anna Caballero and Huron city and school officials.

“This is something special,” said Thurmond. “We can create a path to creating a high school because students should not have to travel long distances, and we don’t want students dropping out because they don’t feel they have something in their community. This is a unique place because of this wonderful opportunity of land that is available for a school.”

Senator Caballero praised the students, their parents and Huron Mayor Rey Leon, all of whom have worked tirelessly on this project. “Where there is a will there is a way, and this would not have happened but for the tenacity of the mayor who has been single focused on this issue and saying we have to get this done,” said Caballero.

Mayor Leon said that “this is one of the stepping stones to get us to where we need to be.” He added that Senator Caballero has been a huge help and that Superintendent Thurmond “understands Huron and communities that struggle because of the lack of invested resources.”

Maritza Orozco, center, made a video along with other community members outside the City Council Chambers in Huron, while policymakers met inside about plans for a high school. Photo by Peter Maiden.

Leon also acknowledged the other partners present at the press conference working to make this high school a reality: Lori Villanueva, superintendent of the Coalinga-Huron Unified School District; Ruben Rodriquez, community organizer and director of Healthy Environment for all Life; and Dolores Huerta, one of the founders of the United Farm Workers union and the founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Huerta said that the “parents in the Central Valley, the farmworkers, are the ones who contribute to the wealth of California” and they deserve a high school. She added “that we can’t take no for an answer.” Huerta said that we will find the money to build the high school, ending with her classic phrase “Si se puede!

After the press conference, attendees toured the site of the future high school, a plot of land of about 50 acres at the edge of town.

The Community Alliance newspaper has covered the journey of Huron’s struggle to bring a high school to the community and organized a town hall to highlight this issue in November 2022. More than 100 people attended that event, which was part of this newspaper’s Stop the Hate campaign.

Right to left: State Senator Ana Caballero, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Mayor of Huron Rey León and community activist Rubén Rodríguez at their press conference. All photos by Peter Maiden.

Press Conference re Huron High School


  • Mike Rhodes

    Mike Rhodes is the executive director of the Community Alliance, was the editor of this newspaper from 1998 to 2014 and the author of several books. Contact him at mikerhodes@fresnoalliance.com.

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